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National parks – study abroad at home

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National parks – study abroad at home

Bryce Canyon National Park located in Utah. Photo courtesy of Jerry and Pat Donaho

Bryce Canyon National Park located in Utah. Photo courtesy of Jerry and Pat Donaho

Bryce Canyon National Park located in Utah. Photo courtesy of Jerry and Pat Donaho

Bryce Canyon National Park located in Utah. Photo courtesy of Jerry and Pat Donaho

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Partners in the Parks, an annual outdoor learning program where students study in national parks, is an opportunity now available to University South Alabama students.

Prices for Partners in the Parks vary from project to project, but the organizers of the program, the National Collegiate Honors Council, accept applications from both members and nonmembers of the NCHC. USA Honors College students are already members of the NCHC due to their honors status, and receive a 50 percent discount on their registering fees according to NCHC’s Partners in the Parks website.

Donavon Dahmer, a junior Biomedical Sciences major and a USA Honors College student, applied for an opportunity with Partners in the Parks. Dahmer said he is exploring ways to help pay for his trip to Acadia National Park.

“Initially, my financial situation kept me from pursuing it, but once I talked more with Dr. Cooke, she informed me about scholarships that would provide funding for most, if not all, of the program’s cost,” Dahmer said.

Students and faculty accepted into the program visit their choice of national parks or natural wonders of America and explore scientific, cultural and historical significance of the area during the summer. They are also given several opportunities for recreational activities while in the parks.

This year, Partners in the Parks offers students 12 different locations to choose from, including the Buffalo National River in Arkansas, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah and Volcanoes National Park in Hawai’i.

“I have always been passionate about the environment, and I believe national parks are so valuable to our country,” Dahmer said. “I chose the Acadia National Park due to its rocky beaches, tall mountains and rolling hills. I love the geographic diversity it has to offer.”

Itineraries vary from park to park, but all choices feature educational seminars as an integral component of the trip, according to the Partners in the Parks website.

“[Partners in the Parks] projects will … broaden participants’ understanding of the overall value of national parks to our country and its citizens,” the NCHC stated on their website.

The USA Honors College partnered with the NCHC to provide students this opportunity. Dr. Kathy Cooke, dean of the USA Honors College and USA history professor, is excited to share this opportunity with the University of South Alabama.

“One of the primary missions of the Honors College is to cultivate interdisciplinary and intelligent thinking,” Dr. Cooke said. “Partners in the Parks isn’t just about geology or environmental science. It’s a means to engage with different communities and schools of thinking on a national level.”

Deadlines for Partners in the Parks applications vary from project to project and fall anywhere between mid-April and early July.

For more information, you can contact the USA Honors College or visit the Partners in the Parks website at: https://www.nchchonors.org/events/partners-in-the-parks.

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